Buckley Air Force Base

Buckley Air Force Base
Buckley Air Force Base

Air Force Space Command.png

Part of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC)
Located in: Aurora, Colorado
Buckley AFB.png
Buckley AFB, looking west with the Colorado Rockies in background. Aurora is in foreground.
Coordinates 39°42′06″N 104°45′06″W / 39.70167°N 104.75167°W / 39.70167; -104.75167 (Buckley AFB)
Built 1942
In use 1948-Present
Controlled by  United States Air Force
Garrison 460th Space Wing.png
460th Space Wing
Airfield information
Elevation AMSL 5,662 ft / 1,726 m
Website www.buckley.af.mil
Direction Length Surface
ft m
14/32 11,000 3,353 PEM
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]
Buckley AFB is located in Colorado
Buckley AFB
Location of Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado

Buckley Air Force Base (IATA: BKFICAO: KBKFFAA LID: BKF) is a United States Air Force base in Aurora, Colorado, that was established by the U.S. Army in 1943. The base was named in honor of the World War I Army pilot 1LT John Harold Buckley.



Buckley Air Force Base is an Air Force Space Command base that serves more than 92,000 active duty, National Guard, Reserve and retired personnel throughout the Front Range community. Buckley AFB defends America through its air operations, space-based missile warning capabilities, space surveillance operations, space communications operations and support functions.[2]


The mission of Buckley Air Force Base's host unit, the 460th Space Wing is to deliver global infrared surveillance, tracking missile warning for theater and homeland defense and provide combatant commanders with expeditionary warrior Airmen. The 460th Space Wing is broken into three groups, each responsible for a distinct part of the Buckley Air Force Base mission.[2]

  • 460th Operations Group
Provides missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence, satellite command and control, battlespace characterization and robust communications. The group's team of space professionals operates the Defense Support Program satellite, which provides continuous global surveillance, tracking and targeting.[2]
  • 460th Mission Support Group
Provides trained personnel to support the Air Expeditionary Forces and Homeland Defense. The group is responsible for force protection, quality of life, human resources, contracting, logistics, base infrastructure and environmental stewardship support to the 460th SW, its customers and the base operational missions.[2]
  • 460th Medical Group
Supports military readiness to the Air Expeditionary Forces and Homeland Defense missions by ensuring base personnel are medically qualified for deployments and providing health care, life skills support, family advocacy, aerospace medicine, public health, bioenvironmental engineering, optometry, ancillary services health and wellness services and dental care.[2]

The base also hosts the Colorado Air National Guard 120th Fighter Squadron and its F-16C fighters, the 140th Wing also includes the Air Mobility Command's 200th Airlift Squadron, operating the C-21 Learjet; the Air Force Space Command's 137th Space Warning Squadron; and the Pacific Air Forces's 240th Civil Engineering Flight. Air National Guardsmen of the Colorado Air National Guard provide services during national emergencies or wartime and natural disasters. The Colorado Air National Guard is an integral part of the Operation Noble Eagle mission responsible for the 24-hour-a-day defense of the land, sea, and air of the United States.[3]

The ANG's state and federal mission is to provide trained, well-equipped men and women who can augment the active force during national emergencies or war, and provide assistance during natural disasters and civil disturbances. The guard plays a significant role in the Noble Eagle mission responsible for 24-hour defense of the land, sea and air of the continental United States.[2]

The Colorado Army National Guard operates the Army Aviation Support Facility at Buckley AFB and is responsible for supplying personnel and equipment for CH-47 Chinook, UH-1 Huey, and UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.[2]

Tenant Units

77 tenant units call Buckley AFB "Home".

  • On-base units include:
The Aerospace Data Facility, the 140th Wing, 566th Intelligence Squadron, Air Force Office of Special Investigation, Det. 801, Marine Air Control Squadron 23, Navy Marine Corps Reserve Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Civil Air Patrol, Army Air Force Exchange Service, Air Force Audit Agency, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Air Force Technical Applications Center Det. 45, Defense Commissary Agency, Defense Contract Manager Agency, Army Aviation Support Facility and Battery A, 1st Battalion, 14th Marines.[2]
  • Off-base tenant units supported by Buckley Air Force Base include:
The Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC), which is physically located off Buckley at the former Lowry AFB in Denver. ARPC manages personnel records for the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command and maintains the virtual Personnel Center - Guard and Reserve, a Web-based portal for Air Guardsmen and Air Force Reservists. With over 490 military and civilian personnel, ARPC also performs other personnel services and transactions in support Air Reserve Component forces in the continental United States, as well as Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. [2]
The 4th Manpower Requirements Squadron, Air Force Accounting and Finance Office, Defense Information Service Agency, Air Force Institute of Technology, Air Force Office of Special Investigation, Det. 110, Air Reserve Personnel Center, Defense Automated Printing Service, Defense Security Cooperation Agency (FMS), SBIRS Combine Task Force, HQ Air Force Weather Agency, ROTC Det. 105, Department of Defense Inspector General, Military Entrance Processing Station, Naval Reserve Recruiting Area West 7, Rocky Mountain Arsenal and the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion.[2]


World War II

Aerial view of the Naval Air Station Denver in the late 1940s

During the early years of World War II the city of Denver purchased a 5,740-acre (23 km2) parcel of land several miles east of the city and donated it to the Department of the Army. The site was named Buckley Field after 1st Lt. John Harold Buckley, a Longmont, Colorado, native, who was killed while on a combat strafing mission behind enemy lines in France on September 17, 1918.

Under the command of the 336th AAF Base Unit (Army Air Forces Technical Training Command), construction on this air base began in early 1942, and that resulted in the construction of over 700 buildings. On 1 July 1942, the U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Training School there opened. It consisted of bombardier and armorer training for aircrewmen on the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator bombers. During World War II, Buckley Field also trained over 50,000 airmen in initial basic training.

The Cold War years

With World War II over, Buckley Field's military role quickly diminished, and in 1946 it became an auxiliary field of the nearby Lowry Air Force Base. Lowry in turn transferred control of the base to the Colorado Air National Guard that same year. Air National Guard ownership lasted less than one year, and then in 1947 the Department of the Navy took charge of the base and renamed it Naval Air Station Denver. The renamed base was the location of Naval Air Reserve aviation squadrons, as well as for veterans and their families waiting to return to civilian life. Thousands of veterans returned to civilian life here over the next four years, while Naval Air Reservists concurrently conducted operational training. The Navy remained here for 12 years before decommissioning its base on June 30, 1959, and transferring it back to the U.S. Air Force (which had not existed before 1947), which renamed the facility Buckley Air Force Base. However, the Naval Reserve remained at Buckley as tenant activity known as Naval Air Reserve Center Denver, the predecessor of the present day Navy Operational Support Center Denver.

Buckley Field once again became the Buckley Air National Guard Base on April 18, 1960. At the same time, it became the first stand-alone Air National Guard base in the country. The Colorado Air National Guard remained in control of Buckley Field for the next 40 years, operating it as a fighter base.

During the Cold War era, the Colorado Air National Guard mobilized the Buckley-based 120th Tactical Fighter Squadron for such historical events as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the USS Pueblo crisis, and the Vietnam War.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the growth of Aurora, Denver's eastern neighbor, edged toward Buckley Field, and the land of the air base was eventually annexed by that city, although the installation remains U.S. Government property under Federal vice municipal jurisidction.

Other tenant units at Buckley Field during the Cold War era included the:

  • 154th Tactical Air Support Group, an Air National Guard (ANG) unit trained to provide close air support for United States Army ground operations. The 154th Group had its own truck-mounted tactical radar units and radar-control vans, but no aircraft were assigned to the Group. (circa 1970 through 1989)

Modern era

Although the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, the 120th Tactical Fighter Wing did not see any decrease in its responsibilities. This Fighter Wing deployed from Buckley Field numerous times during the decade of the 1990s to take part in various military operations such as Operation Desert Storm, Operation Northern Watch, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In October 2000, the Buckley Air National Guard base was transferred to U.S. Air Force control, and it was renamed the Buckley Air Force Base.

Since the return of Buckley Field to the Air Force in 2000, the air base has seen an unprecedented amount of new construction and modernization. New enlisted airmen's dormitories, the commissary, the base exchange, and the fitness center have all been completed, augmented by the completion of family housing units - the first ones ever constructed at Buckley Field.

See also


  • Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
  • Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942-2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
  • "Buckley Air Force Base 2006 Guide". AQP Publishing Inc.
  •  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Buckley Air Force Base".

External links

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